House Republicans, including new whip, urge end to wind credit

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2014

More than 50 House Republicans, including the third-ranking member of the party’s leadership, are renewing a call to end a key wind energy tax credit.

A letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and newly elected Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) argues the production tax credit (PTC) has outlived its useful life and distorts wholesale energy markets — claims that have been leveled against the wind industry for years from a coalition of free-market activist groups and elements of the nuclear industry.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), who is the industry’s leading House critic despite hailing from one of the windiest states in the country, organized the letter, which was signed by 53 Republicans, including Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who officially assumed his post along with McCarthy just before the August recess.

“By ending this program now we will have given the wind industry a more than generous phase-out for a credit that is being awarded to a mature technology with over 61,100 megawatts of generation installed under the country and 13,400 [MW] under development in 21 states,” the Republicans write.

The industry argues that the recent uptick in activity is tied to Congress’ decision to extend the credit at the end of its previous session, with more favorable requirements that simply required projects to be under construction before its most recent expiration at the end of last year. Industry officials warn that another collapse in activity would be more likely without a further PTC extension.

Wind companies and their main trade association, the American Wind Energy Association, have been contributing heavily to vulnerable Senate Democrats this year, an indication that a PTC extension will be on more favorable ground if the upper chamber does not flip to GOP control in November (Greenwire, Aug. 12).

The PTC primarily supports wind development, which is the focus of the GOP letter. But the credit, if it were renewed, also would be available for geothermal, biomass, waste-to-energy and certain hydro projects.